Washington Lawyer

Bar Counsel: Conflicts of Interest: An Overview

From Washington Lawyer, October 2002

By Joyce E. Peters

barcounselIn the words of a biblical parable discussing the dishonest steward, "No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other: or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other." 1 How then can a lawyer zealously, diligently, and competently serve two clients with conflicting interests without in fact disserving them both (and incidentally breaching a rule of professional conduct)? When a lawyer engages in a business or other transaction with a client, how does the lawyer ensure that both the client and the lawyer are treated fairly, equally, and ethically? What do the ethical rules require and prohibit when the interests of two clients diverge? These ethical questions lie at the heart of the rules dealing with conflicts of interest.

Issues involving conflicts of interest permeate the activities of lawyers regardless of the nature of their practices. In the disciplinary summaries this month there are four board decisions in cases involving conflicts of interest that have arisen in totally different settings: In re Austin, a case involving improper loans to a client; In re Sims, a case involving a lawyer convicted of misdemeanor conflict of interest in connection with his employment as a traffic ticket adjudicator; In re Cohen, a case involving a conflict of interest that arose between two clients in a trademark case and also raising issues of imputed ethical responsibility; and In re Maxwell, a reciprocal case from Maryland involving conflicts of interest and other misconduct arising from business dealings with clients.2

As these cases show, conflicts are not simply matters that arise in transactional or commercial settings, in big firm practice, in criminal cases, or in major litigation undertakings. Conflicts of interest can arise anywhere: in domestic relations practice; in probate matters; in governmental activities; in legislative matters; in personal relationships with clients, colleagues, and business associates; and even in disciplinary matters.3 Conflicts of interest are commonplace, but recognizing and resolving them is not always easy.

In most firms and government agencies, systems are in place to provide explicitly for "conflicts checks" when new matters are undertaken. These systems, which vary in complexity and sophistication, help identify if the lawyer, the firm, or the official in a governmental agency is or has previously been involved in a matter involving the same client, the same parties, or the same subject matter. Having conflict-checking systems in place or having internal office procedures for dealing with conflicts is critically important, as the systems inject objectivity into the process.

At the 28th ABA National Conference on Professional Responsibility, held from May 29 to June 1 in Vancouver, British Columbia, a plenary session devoted to the topic "In-House Advisor: Building an Ethical Infrastructure in Law Firms" produced a number of useful suggestions that could be adapted to a variety of organizations. The underlying theme for this panel was that something more than just a computer check for conflicts or asking a buddy for advice is essential in today’s practice to avoid ethical traps and supervisory liability for unethical actions by subordinates.

Recognizing that most firms are expanding the resources available to their lawyers and staffs to deal with ethical concerns, the panel reviewed a number of different ways to integrate ethical thinking and planning into daily operations. For example, there was discussion of defining and developing in-house ethics advisers as resources for the staff and adopting proactive, as opposed to reactive, ethics workstyles that put resolution of ethics issues in front of other activities. The panel also suggested increasing the involvement of firm or organizational management in ethics decision making to inject professional experience and broader objectivity into the process. Organizational leadership should also intervene in situations involving "rogue" lawyers or nonfunctional relationships among members of the organization that inhibit communication and resolution of issues, and should develop training initiatives for both lawyers and nonlawyer staff. Most of these ideas have broad applicability in dealing with everyday ethical problems of practice, but they also seem most appropriate in helping lawyers avoid ethical traps in the conflicts area.

In one of the recent decisions by the Board on Professional Responsibility, In re Cohen,4 a conflict-of-interest case now pending review before the D.C. Court of Appeals, the board found not only misconduct involving a conflict of interest and two other rule violations, but also a failure of supervision by a named partner and a failure of the firm to have measures in place to deal with ethical issues. In fact, the board found "that the firm had no requirement that a partner supervise the work of associates, no formal ethics training available to lawyers in the firm, nor any mechanism in place to assure that associates complied with ethical rules."5 The case involved the representation of two clients whose interests became adverse during trademark application and cancellation proceedings.

Although the court has yet to review the board’s decision, what is clear from this case is that organizations cannot hide from conflict-of-interest or other ethical issues and cannot simply expect that subordinates and colleagues will act ethically. Mishandling such ethical issues can not only taint an individual’s judgment in resolving a particular matter, but also undermine the effectiveness of the entire organization.

The possibility of supervisory liability under Rule 5.1 of the D.C. Rules of Professional Conduct6 for a subordinate’s improper handling of ethical matters was considered once before by the board in In re O’Duden.7 In O’Duden the board found that the respondent, general counsel of the National Treasury Employees Union, had violated Rule 5.1(b) and (c)(2) by failing to ensure that his subordinate attorneys complied with the requirements of Rule 1.15(a) (commingling) and Rule 1.17(a) (requirement to have an account denominated as a trust or escrow account) to keep settlement funds segregated in an appropriate trust account. The board found a violation of Rule 5.1(c)(2) even though the respondent had no actual knowledge of the misconduct by the subordinates, concluding that as a supervising attorney the respondent had significant personal involvement in overseeing the case.

The O’Duden and Cohen decisions suggest that organizations must ensure that they adopt programs or systems to assist in resolving ethical matters. Training programs within firms and organizations or continuing legal education classes in ethics also can help in this process by providing forums for discussion of ethical issues and increase familiarity with and sensitivity to the rules surrounding recognition and resolution of conflicts. These programs can be tailored to the legal environment of the organization and be made quite specific for the work in which the lawyers engage.

Having an established procedure for lawyers to seek unbiased advice about potential conflicts of interest is indispensable, as an individual lawyer may be blinded by client loyalty, client attitudes, fee issues, fascination with a particular legal issue, or the seeming complexity of a situation that may appear quite different to a neutral third party. A lawyer who believes that his or her vision will always be clear on thorny conflict issues underestimates the impact that other factors may have in the decision-making process and acts like the lawyer who foolishly tries to represent him- or herself. Despite the best intentions, the lawyer simply may not see or choose to see that a conflict exists.

Formal avenues that provide assistance in resolving conflict issues also exist. For lawyers serving in or leaving federal government service, the Office of Government Ethics and the individual’s agency have ethics advisers who routinely assist current and former employees in gauging if a conflict of interest exists. Failure to use these resources or to seek formal advice on conflict issues can be perilous.8

In addition, the Legal Ethics Committee of the D.C. Bar is always available to help lawyers unsure of how to proceed. Many of the inquiries directed to the legal ethics counsel at the Bar involve conflict matters. Nearly 40 published opinions of the Legal Ethics Committee have been issued in which Rule 1.7, the general conflict-of-interest provision, has been cited; many more deal with other conflict-of-interest provisions.

There are actually seven rules that provide ethical guidance on conflicts of interest: Rule 1.7 contains the general rule; Rule 1.8 describes prohibited transactions; Rule 1.9 deals with former-client issues; Rule 1.10 concerns imputed disqualifications; Rule 1.11 discusses lawyers moving from the government to private employment; Rule 1.12 addresses former arbitrators; and Rule 1.13 concerns having an organization as a client.

The sheer number of these rules and the extensive comments that accompany them reveal the diversity of situations in which potential conflict issues may arise. The conflict-of-interest rules themselves primarily proscribe conduct, telling lawyers what not to do, such as Rule 1.7(a), which states: "A lawyer shall not advance two or more adverse positions in the same matter." But the rules also contain numerous exceptions to the proscriptions that must be read carefully in any specific factual context.

Staying vigilant for possible conflict issues and promptly consulting the rules when questions arise is an important part of lawyering. Lawyers must not abdicate their responsibilities and attempt to resolve conflicts by ignoring them. Do not let your brain be as Robert Frost described it: "The brain is a wonderful organ: It starts working the moment you get up in the morning and does not stop until you get into the office."9 Don’t let your brain stop in the office. Be alert and sensitive to conflict-of-interest issues. The alternative is a guaranteed way not only to lose clients but also to end up with a Bar complaint.

Notes

  1. Luke 16:13; Matthew 6:24 (King James).
  2. Copies of these decisions are available online in the discipline section of the D.C. Bar’s Web site at www.dcbar.org.
  3. Potential conflicts may arise in disciplinary matters, for example, when a lawyer being investigated as a respondent is simultaneously representing another lawyer under investigation, when a volunteer member of a hearing committee or the board has had prior dealings with a respondent or the subject of an investigation, or when a hearing committee or board member serves as contact member for an action that later goes to a hearing. In the latter two situations board rules specifically provide for challenges of hearing committee members based on personal bias or prejudice (Board Rule 7.20) and recusal of the volunteer contact member of the board or hearing committee to avoid any conflict (Board Rules 2.15, 2.18).
  4. Bar Docket No. 280-97 (July 31, 2002).
  5. Id. at 31-32.
  6. Rule 5.1(a) requires law firm partners to "make reasonable efforts to ensure that the firm has in effect measures giving reasonable assurance that all lawyers in the firm conform to the Rules of Professional Conduct." Rule 5.1(b) requires a lawyer having supervisory authority over another lawyer to "make reasonable efforts to ensure that the other lawyer conforms to the Rules of Professional Conduct." Rule 5.1(c) makes a lawyer responsible for another lawyer’s violation of the rules if the lawyer orders or "with knowledge of the specific conduct, ratifies the conduct involved," or if as a partner or direct supervisory lawyer the lawyer "knows or reasonably should know of the conduct at a time when its consequences can be avoided or mitigated but fails to take reasonable remedial action." (Emphasis added.) The highlighted language was added to D.C. Rule 5.1(c)(2) during consideration of the ABA Model Rules. ABA Model Rule 5.1(c)(2) does not contain the "reasonably should know" language, which in effect creates imputed responsibility for another lawyer’s misconduct. See the board’s decision in In re Cohen for a discussion of the history of this language in D.C. Rule 5.1(c)(2).
  7. Bar Docket Nos. 72-95, 73-95, 403-95 (June 19, 2001).
  8. See In re Sofaer, 728 A.2d 625 (D.C.), reh’g denied, No. 97-BG-1096 (D.C. 1999), cert. denied, 529 U.S. 1053 (2000).
  9. Robert Frost, as quoted in Leo Rosten’s Carnival of Wit: From Aristotle to Groucho Marx.

Disciplinary Actions Taken by the Board on Professional Responsibility
IN RE MICHAEL ABBELL. 8417 Carlynn Drive, Bethesda, Maryland. July 16, 2002. The board recommends that the court disbar Abbell based upon his conviction in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida of RICO and money-laundering conspiracies, concluding that the RICO conspiracy, which included both money laundering and obstruction of justice (a crime of moral turpitude) as predicate offenses, involves moral turpitude per se.

IN RE EUGENE T. AUSTIN. 204 East Shadburn Avenue, Buford, Georgia. July 12, 2002. The board recommends that the court suspend Austin for 18 months with reinstatement conditioned on both proof of fitness and his payment of full restitution to his client and the Clients’ Security Trust Fund of the District of Columbia Bar. Austin engaged in a prohibited conflict of interest by entering into 10 loan transactions with his client on terms that were both unfair and unreasonable without making the required disclosures that would have permitted his client to make fully informed decisions concerning her actions. Austin also engaged in dishonest conduct by concealing his financial condition from his client and fabricating a letter to his client’s successor counsel to thwart his client’s wishes. He then failed to reflect his debts to his client on his bankruptcy petition and failed to inform her of his bankruptcy filing. One member of the board filed a dissent to the sanction recommendation and recommended Austin’s disbarment.

IN RE SHOLA E. AYENI. 1250 H Street NE, Washington, D.C. July 26, 2002. The board recommends in three matters involving two guardianships and a criminal appeal that the court disbar Ayeni for misappropriation of his clients’ funds, commingling his clients’ funds with his own, failing to seek his clients’ objectives, and making false statements of facts to a tribunal.

IN RE HERBERT COHEN. 10809 Mazwood Place, Rockville, Maryland. July 31, 2002. The board recommends that the court suspend Cohen for 30 days, but stay the suspension and place Cohen on probation for one year with conditions. The matter arose from Cohen’s law firm’s representation of two clients in connection with a trademark matter. During the course of the representation, the interests of the two clients became adverse to each other, and the firm thereafter continued to represent one client without first obtaining the consent of the other. The board concluded that Cohen engaged in a prohibited conflict of interest and failed to keep his clients reasonably informed about the status of the matter, to surrender the client’s file upon termination of the representation, and to make reasonable efforts to ensure that his law firm had in place measures giving reasonable assurance that all lawyers in the firm would conform to the Rules of Professional Conduct. The board found that Cohen, a named partner in the firm, also failed to supervise another attorney properly, and thus was responsible for that attorney’s knowing false statement of material fact to a tribunal.

IN RE JOSEPH E. GLASS. 209 Courtland Avenue, Baltimore, Maryland. June 14, 2002. In a reciprocal matter from Maryland, the board recommends that the court suspend Glass for 90 days, nunc pro tunc to August 29, 2001, the effective date of the Maryland suspension. The allegations in Maryland included that Glass charged an excessive contingency fee, failed to provide an adequate written remittance sheet, failed to explain adequately a matter to a client, improperly solicited a client, and lacked diligence and zeal in representing two clients. Four disciplinary complaints relating to four separate matters were pending against Glass when he filed a joint petition for 90-day suspension by consent in Maryland. The board recommends that the court impose a 90-day suspension as identical reciprocal discipline.

IN RE GEOFFREY P. KELLY. 1034 5th Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. July 26, 2002. The board recommends that the court disbar Kelly based upon his conviction in the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania of three counts of making and subscribing to a false income tax return and one count of bank fraud, a crime that involves moral turpitude per se.

IN RE ROBERT L. KOVEN. 110 North Washington Street, Rockville, Maryland. July 18, 2002. In a reciprocal matter from Maryland, the board recommends that the court disbar Koven based upon his consent to disbarment in Maryland.

IN RE JAMES S. MAXWELL. 51 Monroe Place, Rockville, Maryland. June 26, 2002. In a reciprocal matter involving conflicts of interest and other misconduct from Maryland, where Maxwell con-sented to public reprimand, the board recommends, upon remand, that the court publicly censure him as equivalent reciprocal discipline.

IN RE GREGORY C. MITCHELL. Law Offices of Gregory Mitchell, 1000 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, D.C. July 10, 2002. The board recommends that the court suspend Mitchell for 90 days. Mitchell failed to deliver funds to a third-party medical provider and was dishonest by initially representing to the provider that he had not received the settlement proceeds, and then when challenged, by stating that he believed that the payment already had been made.

IN RE GERALDINE H. OWENS. 3533 Warder Street NW, Washington, D.C. July 12, 2002. The board recommends that the court suspend Owens for 30 days. Owens knowingly made false statements of material fact to an administrative law judge of the Merit Systems Protection Board concerning her representation of a client before the board and engaged in dishonesty and conduct that seriously interfered with the administration of justice. After testifying on her client’s behalf, Owens, pursuant to the judge’s sequestration order, left the hearing room but attempted to overhear another witness’s testimony contrary to the judge’s order. Owens then twice denied her eavesdropping to the judge, once under oath, before correcting her testimony. Three members of the board dissented to the sanction recommendation and recommended that the court stay the 30-day suspension in favor of one year of unmonitored probation with conditions.

IN RE HORACE HUGO PEREZ. 2030 North Clarendon Boulevard, Arlington, Virginia. June 14, 2002. The board recommends that the court suspend Perez for 60 days, order Perez to pay restitution to his client in the amount of $350 with interest, and condition his reinstatement upon proof of fitness. Perez engaged in protracted neglect and intentional conduct that resulted in prejudice and damage to an immigration client.

IN RE SYLVIA ANITA RYAN, AKA SYLVIA ANITA WEBSTER. 3108 16th Street NW, Washington, D.C. July 29, 2002. In a reciprocal matter from New York, the board recommends that Ryan be disbarred. The New York court disbarred Ryan for falsely representing to the Board of Immigration Appeals that she was admitted to the Bar of the New York Court of Appeals and had not been suspended, when in fact she was suspended.

IN RE ALLEN M. SHORE. 2450 Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood, Florida. July 31, 2002. The board recommends that the court disbar Shore based upon his conviction in the Circuit Court of Broward County, Florida, of one count of RICO conspiracy, based upon Shore’s participation in fraudulent mortgage transactions. The board found that Shore’s RICO conviction involves moral turpitude per se.

IN RE NATHANIEL SIMS. 1912 Spruce Drive NW, Washington, D.C. July 10, 2002. The board recommends that the court disbar Sims based upon his conviction in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia of misdemeanor conflict of interest. Sims, a hearing examiner of the District of Columbia Bureau of Traffic Adjudication, improperly dismissed 20 traffic tickets that affected him and his family.

IN RE JOHN M. SPIRIDON. 672 Ocean Pines, Berlin, Maryland. July 12, 2002. The board recommends that the court deny Spiridon’s petition for reinstatement.

IN RE DEANGELO STARNES. 7316 West 97th Street, Westminster, Colorado. July 31, 2002. The board recommends that the court suspend Starnes for six months with the requirement that he demonstrate fitness to practice law. Starnes used a false statement to gain admission to the District of Columbia Bar; and upon gaining admission, he seriously neglected three separate matters.

IN RE MICHAEL V. STATHAM. 8401 Corporate Drive, Landover, Maryland. July 16, 2002. In a reciprocal matter from Maryland, the board recommends that the court disbar Statham based upon his consent to disbarment in Maryland.

IN RE DREW V. TIDWELL. 156 Colony Court, Amherst, New York. July 5, 2002. The board recommends that the court disbar Tidwell based upon his conviction in New York State in 1999 of leaving the scene of a fatal automobile accident without reporting it, a crime that involves moral turpitude on the facts and reflects adversely on his honesty, trustworthiness, and fitness as a lawyer.

IN RE CHRISTOPHER TRIKERIOTIS. 9505 Reisterstown Road, Owings Mill, Maryland. July 16, 2002. The board recommends that the court disbar Trikeriotis based upon his conviction in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland of felony bank fraud, a crime that involves moral turpitude per se.

IN RE ALAN G. WARNER. 3252 SW Plass Avenue, Topeka, Kansas. July 26, 2002. In a reciprocal matter from Kansas, the board recommends that the court publicly censure Warner and order him to pay restitution as ordered in Kansas. The Kansas court publicly censured Warner for failing to provide his client a written contingent fee contract and required him to pay restitution for failing to reimburse a witness for travel expenses after promising to do so.

Disciplinary Actions Taken by the District of Columbia Court of Appeals
IN RE MARGARET A. BELLER. 800 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, D.C. July 3, 2002. The court suspended Beller for 30 days based upon her admitted failure to respond to repeated inquiries from Bar Counsel and the board regarding three ethical complaints. The court conditioned reinstatement on Beller’s full cooperation with Bar Counsel in these matters.

IN RE JAY M. BERKOWITZ. 9907 Edward Avenue, Bethesda, Maryland. June 13, 2002. The court disbarred Berkowitz based upon his intentional misappropriation of funds. Retained to represent an appointed successor personal representative in an estate, Berkowitz took estate funds to pay his legal fees without first petitioning the probate court for permission, as required by the Probate Reform Act of 1980. Berkowitz also failed to notify the successor personal representative of his receipt of certain estate funds, improperly took them as legal fees contrary to his fee agreement, and failed to disclose them on his fee invoices and an estate inventory filed with the court.

IN RE DIANE E. CAFFERTY. 1742 S Street NW, Washington, D.C. July 3, 2002. The court disbarred Cafferty based upon her reckless misappropriations of client funds and her failure to render requested accountings promptly to her clients. Cafferty, who represented a number of condominium owners in condominium association matters, commingled client escrow account funds with other funds and used these escrow funds for personal and business expenses not associated with the affairs of the condominium clients or the condominium association.

IN RE ANTHONY J. CORIZZI. 2862 28th Street NW, Washington, D.C. July 25, 2002. The court disbarred Corizzi for suborning perjury; failing to advise a client of a settlement offer; making false statements to a former client’s successor counsel, Bar Counsel, and the court; and other misconduct in another client matter.

IN RE BRUCE W. HAUPT. 1359 Parkwood Place NW, Washington, D.C. June 6, 2002. The court denied Haupt’s petition for reinstatement.

IN RE THOMAS R. HENDERSHOT. 7525 Greenway Center Drive, Greenbelt, Maryland. June 13, 2002. In a reciprocal matter from Maryland, the court suspended Hendershot for two years, with the requirement that he demonstrate fitness to practice law prior to reinstatement. The Maryland court indefinitely suspended Hendershot with the right to apply for reinstatement after two years for neglecting a legal matter, failing to keep a client reasonably informed, commingling funds, depositing an estate check into his escrow account, and splitting fees with a nonlawyer.

IN RE CLINTON A. JACKSON. 1828 18th Street NW, Washington, D.C. June 6, 2002. Jackson, who was disbarred in 2001 in an unrelated case, represented a claimant before the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs of the United States Department of Labor. In the course of the representation Jackson charged and accepted an illegal $500 fee and failed to represent the claimant with diligence and zeal, to keep his client informed, to respond to her repeated requests for information, and to supervise the associates he had assigned to the client’s case. Because of the earlier disbarment, the court in this case imposed no additional sanction, but as a condition of reinstatement, ordered Jackson to make restitution to the client of the illegal $500 fee he had received.

IN RE CHESTER N. KATZ. PO Box 639, Silver Spring, Maryland. June 27, 2002. The court suspended Katz for six months but stayed the suspension based upon mitigating evidence of a medical disability pursuant to the principles set forth in In re Kersey, 520 A.2d 321 (D.C. 1987). Katz was placed on probation with the condition that he submit quarterly reports to Bar Counsel showing that he is continuing therapy with a licensed mental health professional for his depression and dysthymia. Katz engaged in negligent misappropriation of entrusted funds and failed to safeguard property entrusted to him in two real estate transactions when, without notice to or consent by one client, he used that client’s personal check to pay recordation fees of another client and then paid the former client’s recordation fees from funds escrowed on behalf of the latter client.

IN RE GREGORY JOHN SCHWARTZ. Law Offices of Gregory J. Schwartz, 1825 I Street NW, Washington, D.C. July 3, 2002. In a reciprocal matter from Maryland, the court suspended Schwartz for 18 months, with all but 60 days stayed, nunc pro tunc to July 19, 2001, the date of his suspension in Maryland. The Maryland suspension was based on a joint petition for suspension by consent in which Schwartz acknowledged that he was facing disciplinary charges for allegedly depositing personal funds into his trust account, for bad-faith filing and then voluntarily dismissing multiple bankruptcy petitions, and for assisting his wife in doing the same in an effort to prevent the foreclosure of their residence.

IN RE GEORGE G. VENTURA. TRRCO, PO Box 1776, Gulfport, Mississippi. June 6, 2002. In a consolidated disposition of a criminal conviction matter and a reciprocal matter from Utah, the court suspended Ventura for 90 days, followed by nine months of unsupervised probation, nunc pro tunc to August 22, 2001, the date when Ventura filed the affidavit required by D.C. Bar Rule XI, § 14(g). The court also directed Ventura to submit proof of his completion of 20 hours of the pro bono work required by the Utah court. The recommendation stems jointly from Ventura’s conviction in Ohio of four misdemeanor counts charging unauthorized access to computer systems and from a subsequent disciplinary suspension and pro bono service requirement imposed by Utah for revealing confidential information relating to a former client and for committing criminal acts reflecting adversely on his honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer.

Informal Admonitions Issued by the Office of Bar Counsel
IN RE JAMES H. COHEN. 412 4th Street South, Minneapolis, Minnesota. March 28, 2002. Bar Counsel issued Cohen an informal admonition for unlawful employment discrimination in Minnesota against an individual because of the individual’s HIV status in violation of a Minnesota ethical rule analogous to a D.C. rule.

IN RE ROBERT DOWLUT. PO Box 341101, Bethesda, Maryland. February 22, 2002. Bar Counsel issued Dowlut an informal admonition for failure to serve his client with skill and care commensurate with that generally afforded to clients by other lawyers in similar matters, to represent his client zealously and diligently, to keep his client reasonably informed, and to explain a matter to the extent reasonably necessary to permit his client to make informed decisions.

IN RE LORENZO C. FITZGERALD. 500 11th Street NW, Washington, D.C. May 2, 2002. Bar Counsel issued Fitzgerald an informal admonition for failure upon termination to protect his client’s interests and engaging in conduct that seriously interferes with the administration of justice.

IN RE ROBERT O. GOFF. PO Box 426, Flint Hill, Virginia. April 1, 2002. Bar Counsel issued Goff an informal admonition for failure to provide competent representation, to serve his client with skill and care commensurate with that generally afforded to clients by other lawyers in similar matters, to represent his client zealously and diligently, and to withdraw promptly after experiencing medical problems, and for engaging in conduct that seriously interferes with the administration of justice.

IN RE MATTHEW J. GREEN. 709 Pebblestone Court, Silver Spring, Maryland. January 22, 2002. Bar Counsel issued Green an informal admonition for engaging in conduct that seriously interferes with the administration of justice and failure to provide competent representation or to serve his client with skill and care commensurate with that generally afforded to clients by other lawyers in similar matters.

IN RE NAVRON PONDS. Law Offices of Navron Ponds, 1700 K Street NW, Washington, D.C. January 29, 2002. Bar Counsel issued Ponds an informal admonition for failure to keep his client reasonably informed about the status of a matter and to comply promptly with reasonable requests for information.

IN RE LAURA REIFF. Greenberg Traurig, 1750 Tysons Boulevard, McLean, Virginia. January 30, 2002. Bar Counsel issued Reiff an informal admonition for failure to keep her client reasonably informed and to explain a matter to the extent reasonably necessary to permit her client to make informed decisions, and engaging in conduct involving misrepresentation and conduct that seriously interferes with the administration of justice.

IN RE BARBARA S. SHEA. 105 Rowayton Avenue, Norwalk, Connecticut. June 21, 2002. Bar Counsel issued Shea an informal admonition for failure upon termination of a representation that took place in Connecticut to protect her client’s interests and to keep her client reasonably informed about the status of a matter, and to comply promptly with reasonable requests for information in violation of Connecticut ethical rules identical to the D.C. rules.

IN RE WILLIAM S. STANCIL. PO Box 75182, Washington, D.C. April 10, 2002. Bar Counsel issued Stancil an informal admonition for failure to communicate the basis or rate of the fee in writing and upon termination to protect his client’s interest, and engaging in conduct that seriously interferes with the administration of justice.

IN RE SHARON STYLES-ANDERSON. 441 4th Street NW, Washington, D.C. April 1, 2002. Bar Counsel issued Styles-Anderson an informal admonition for engaging in conduct involving misrepresentation.

IN RE CHERYL MOAT TAYLOR. 4344 Pinefield Court, Randallstown, Maryland. April 2, 2002. Bar Counsel issued Moat Taylor an informal admonition for failure to provide a writing setting forth the basis or rate of the fee, to represent her client zealously and diligently, and to withdraw from the representation when discharged.

The Office of Bar Counsel compiled the foregoing summaries of disciplinary actions. Reports and recommendations issued by the Board on Professional Responsibility, as well as informal admonitions issued by the Office of Bar Counsel, are posted on the D.C. Bar Web site at www.dcbar.org. Court opinions are printed in the Atlantic Reporter and, for decisions issued since mid-1998, are also available online. To obtain a copy of a recent slip opinion, visit www.dccourts.gov/dccourts/appeals/opinions_mojs.jsp. Please note that in some cases Bar members may have the same name. To confirm the identity of individuals who have been subject to discipline, contact the D.C. Bar Member Service Center at 202-626-3475 or membership@dcbar.org.